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Phil Kane

phil kane

tokyo san

You know those archaeology and history programmes that extol the virtue of ancient art, the ones where very knowledgeable people who should know better dig holes in the ground looking for ancient historical artefacts with exclamations such as beautiful, fascinating and fantastic being bandied about when they find stuff? Of course you do.

The art world has a similar sort of thing going on too. While they have an epiphany over a Roman cloak pin, the rest of us scratch our heads and wonder what all the fuss is about. Well, Tokyo's third album, 'San', is the rock equivalent of that.

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Originally released in 1983, 'San' is a very well produced album of driven songs and crack shot musicianship that is very much of the Toto/'Freedom At Point Zero' era Starship school of AOR.

The keyboards have the sort of toot that would become de rigueur for Phil Collins when he was in a happy mood and the guitars just manage to ensure the music stays on the righteous side of the maudlin. The album is happy life affirming rock that is so enthusiastically nice that if you were married to it you would have throttled it within a week of leaving the altar.

Tracks like 'Invisible', 'Too High', 'You're A Liar' and 'Jealousy' shimmer with so much good nature that 'San' could feasibly have graced your neighbour's stereo. With Tokyo being made up of session men, the album is suitably very smooth and polished with just enough grunt to make the ears of the most hardened AORster prick up.

Now that Yesterrock have done their usual bang up job, 'San' sparkles like a clear winter's night sky during a power cut. The problem is that despite the re-mastering the overall sound has not aged well at all. It is rock from an era when jackets were worn with the sleeves pulled up and the ladies wore big hairdos and even bigger shoulder pads. It's the sound of the wine bar lounge where your Duran Duran fan could be found sipping his funny coloured concoction thinking he has really rocked out because he listened to this as he tarted himself up for his night out.

The fact that 'San' sounds very much of its time might be too much to bear and ultimately prove to be its Achilles heel. The album has many charms but as to whether they adequately compensate for the dated sound only you can say.

To some 'San' will be a lost classic but most will regard it as a curio with an intrinsic value that is far outweighed by the effort it took to find and resurrect it; just like that Roman cloak pin.

Tokyo's first two albums are reputedly gutsier propositions but tread cautiously with this one.



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